While Maryland joins the Big 10, transferring from the ACC, America’s most dominant conference over the past few seasons takes a step back in the 2014-15 season. The conference does however remain deep and there are seven quality teams that look like they will represent the Big 10 come tourney time.
Led by Naismith candidate Frank Kamisnky (who was named to the AP’s preseason First Team and my personal favourite for POY), the Badgers return four of five starters from last year’s team- a team that had title aspirations of its own. Kaminsky is primed for an all-world season and Sam Dekker will also be in the running for Big 10 POY honours while going a bit more under-the-radar. This team could possibly put up historic offensive numbers and Bo Ryan is likely to win Big 10 COY running the best team he’s ever had.
After losing Jared Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas, and Aaron Craft the past three seasons, the Buckeyes appear to be in a transition period, lacking a real star. They did, however, have an underrated recruiting class this offseason that ranks 8th in the nation. Freshman guard D’Angelo Russel will be looked to to supply some scoring, supplemented by seniors Shannon Scott (PG) and Sam Thompson (swingman). Keita Bates-Diop is a freshman who they will try to impose in the paint and Thad Matta should be able to coach this team up on the defensive end, after leading the conference in points allowed last season.
MSU is right up there in terms of talent loss with Syracuse, after losing Gary Harris, Adreian Payne, and Keith Appling. AKA three of its top four scorers. However, there is a bright side. The Spartans were hammered with injuries last year, which caused them to play many players on its current roster, accelerating their development and seasoning them for this season. Branden Dawson is the one of the four top scorers and the senior will need to lead the way in points and rebounds. Denzel Valentine and Travis Trice return from rotation roles last season and the athletic guards will be relied upon to supplement Dawson’s scoring.
The good news is that the Hawkeyes return three of five starters from last year’s squad. Unfortunately it was a squad that disappointed against Tennessee after reaching the tournament for the first time in nine seasons. Forward Aaron White will once again be one of the best players in the conference after earning All-Big 10 honours last year, and Trey Dickerson is a transfer who will aid Iowa’s perimeter scoring. Jarrod Uthoff will compliment White nicely in the paint as he enters his junior year.
After seeing a resurgence in the Wolverines basketball program over the past few years, it looks like we’re in store for down-year at MU. No seniors will be involved in the rotation and junior guard Caris LeVert will have to lead this young roster that has seven (!) freshman. Kameron Chatman was ranked the 25th player in this season’s freshman class, Zak Irvin will put up wing scoring, and Derrick Walton Jr. should take a step forward as LeVert’s backcourt mate, but this season screams growing pains for Michigan.
Best of the Rest
First Team All-Big 10
G Chris LeVert, Junior, Michigan
G Yogi Ferrell, Junior, Indiana
F Sam Dekker, Junior, Wisconsin
F Terran Petteway, Junior, Nebraska
F Frank Kaminsky, Senior, Wisconsin